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Healthy Habits: Teaching Kids to Wash Their Hands After Playing on the Playground

Children are around each other for a long time at school or daycare, which opens up many opportunities to spread germs. Hand-washing is the best and most efficient way to suppress the spread of germs. Washing their hands after playing on the playground is essential to decrease the number of germs a child has on their hands. Whether they’re on a playground at school or a town park, adults should encourage children to wash their hands after playing. Teaching kids correct hand-washing habits early on will benefit their health and that of everyone around them.

Hand-washing might not be a child’s top priority in their day. They might be more interested in playing on their favorite swing or what snack they want to eat after lunch. Adults should strive to remind children about the importance of washing their hands and brush up on a few tips and tricks to make this task engaging.

How to Teach Your Child to Wash Their Hands

Children must develop regular hand-washing habits and understand why it is so essential. It helps prevent illness, and nobody — especially children — wants to get sick. Make the hand-washing process fun and exciting, so children take care of themselves better and more often.

Hand-Washing Steps

The CDC recommends five steps to complete the hand-washing process. Clean your hands thoroughly to stop germs from spreading.

  1. Use clean, warm or cold water to wet your hands.
  2. Turn off the tap and apply soap to your hands. Rub hands together and lather between your fingers, nails, palms and the backs of your hands.
  3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Turn the water back on and rinse your hands thoroughly.
  5. Completely dry your hands with a towel, paper towel or hand dryer.

Washing all areas of your hands kills bacteria and allows children to play, and decreases the chances of spreading germs between friends or classmates.

When Should Kids Wash Their Hands?

Many activities require children to wash their hands either before or afterward.

Children should wash their hands before:

  • Eating food
  • Touching their face, eyes, nose and mouth
  • Dressing a cut or wound

Kids should wash their hands after:

  • Using the restroom
  • Playing with pets
  • Using playground equipment
  • Blowing their nose
  • Coughing or sneezing

Children should wash their hands before and after:

  • Visiting someone who is sick
  • Making food

It’s a good idea to have children wash their hands after touching anything that could carry many germs or playing with a large group of children.

How to Make Hand-Washing Exciting

Teaching hand-washing to preschoolers and grade-school children can be educational and fun. Adults can make the process more interesting by adding elements that catch children’s attention.

Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Doing so will ensure the child is washing their hands for the appropriate amount of time.

Search for soap products geared for children. Colorful, glittery soaps with their favorite cartoon character on the bottle may be more enticing to kids.

Teachers or parents could also create an interactive sticker chart to reward children for cleaning their hands. Positive reinforcement can be a significant part of how to teach hand-washing in a fun way.

When Is Hand Sanitizer OK?

It’s essential to teach kids the benefits of washing their hands and when it’s OK to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is not a replacement for cleaning your hands. If you don’t have access to soap and water, it’s best to use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Wash your hands as soon as you get the chance to do so.

It’s also vital to note that hand sanitizer use presents a risk for alcohol poisoning in kids because of the types and concentration of alcohol used to create an effective hand sanitizer. If young kids consume hand sanitizer, there are potentially fatal side effects from alcohol poisoning. To ensure kids are using hand sanitizer safely, adults should dispense a small amount for the kids, keep the bottle safely out of reach and supervise the kids as they rub it in.

Importance of Washing Hands After Playground Activities

Young children spend time almost every day at recess or playtime outside. This playtime means they’ll be interacting with friends and touching the playground equipment and other objects that might harbor viruses.

Children must clean their hands after enjoying the playground because they can accumulate dirt, germs and other substances on their hands.

These could get into the child’s mouth, nose or eyes if they do not wash their hands after playing on the playground. Since children’s immune systems are still developing, they can be more prone to getting sick from not washing their hands. Contracted germs can cause food poisoning and other illnesses.

Benefits of Teaching Kids to Wash Their Hands

Teaching kids how to wash their hands brings two valuable benefits — they can start establishing healthy habits for a lifetime, and they can decrease the number of germs they spread to their friends, families and teachers.

Children are learning nonstop about how to take care of their bodies and how to stay healthy. Washing your hands is a significant milestone in implementing healthy habits into a child’s lifestyle. After they understand the hand-washing process, they can build upon it and continue honing their health habits.

Cleaning your hands helps stop the spread of germs. Teaching children to wash their hands helps keep them happy and healthy.

What are some other ways to prevent the spread of illness?

  • Stay home from school when you’re not feeling well.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, or wash your hands before you do.
  • Stay away from sick people.
  • Regularly clean surfaces to fight off germs.

Adults can emphasize the benefits of hand-washing by explaining how it helps the child and their friends. It’s also essential for adults to lead by example when teaching hand-washing. They can show the child how they wash their hands or always make it a point to wash their hands after specific activities.

Stay Healthy on and off the Playground

Miracle® Recreation encourages healthy play on the playground. Hand-washing is an essential task for children to learn to make the playground a welcoming, happy place.

Miracle Recreation strives to deliver innovative, inclusive, durable and fun commercial playground equipment for schools, daycares, parks, churches and communities for children of all ages and abilities. Please look at the commercial playground equipment we offer. We can help develop your playground vision and work to accommodate your budget. You can also contact us to receive a quote for any of your playground needs.